The enemy of our souls would gladly lead us to take extreme positions. It does not matter much to him in which direction we go, whether to the right or to the left, if only we become extreme in the position which we take. We can go to the extreme in one direction, becoming fanatical and vicious. We can go to another extreme, becoming indifferent to the important truths of the Word of God. Both extremes should be avoided.
Some permit their minds to dwell upon unimportant points and obscure passages of Scripture. They speculate concerning things which have not been fully revealed and which are not essential to our salvation. They overstrain the meaning of an expression in the Scriptures, in order to bring forth something odd, or something to arouse the curiosity of others. It finally becomes a hobby with them. Mrs. E. G. White has given us the following good counsel regarding this matter:
"Learn to take the truths that have been revealed, and to handle them in such a way that they will be food for the flock of God. We shall meet those who allow their minds to wander into idle speculations about things of which nothing is said in the Word of God. God has spoken in the plainest language upon every subject that affects the salvation of the soul. But He desires us to avoid daydreaming, and He says, Go work today in My vineyard. The night cometh wherein no man can work. Cease all idle curiosity; watch, and work, and pray. Study the truths that have been revealed."—Review and Herald, Feb. 5, 1901.
Some go to the opposite extreme. They become careless or even lazy in their study, and are satisfied to swallow the food that has been masticated by others. This leads to spiritual weakness and retrogression of the mental powers. Such carelessness and indifference may lead a minister to the place where he will preach the same sermon over and over again, until it becomes threadbare and devoid of all freshness and life, This is surely an extreme to be avoided.
It is our duty to study the Scriptures. We should dig down, down deep into the mine of revealed truth, that we may discover the precious gems of light that lie buried beneath the surface. These sparkling gems, when discovered, will bring power and freshness to the soul. We quote again from the writings of Mrs. White, who uses the figure of the living water:
"God desires men and women to think soberly and candidly. They are to ascend to a higher and still higher grade, commanding a wider and still wider horizon. Looking unto Jesus, they are to be changed into His image. They are to spend their time in searching for the deep, everlasting truths of heaven. Then there will be nothing frivolous in their religious experience. As they study the grand truths of God's Word, they endure the seeing of Him who is invisible. They see that the most uplifting, ennobling truths are those most clearly connected with the Source of all truth. And as they learn of Him, their motives and sympathies become firm and unchanging; for the impressions made by the All-Wise are substantial and enduring. The living water, which Christ gives, is not like a surface spring, which babbles for a short time, and then dries up. The living water springs up unto everlasting life."—Review and Herald, Aug. 13, 1901.
Of the two extremes, the intolerant attitude is perhaps more dangerous to society than the ossified, because it is full of misguided zeal and uncontrolled fanaticism. It warps the judgment until one cannot see or think clearly. The other extreme should be shunned, too, else those who follow it become negative factors. Let us, therefore, be diligent, balanced students of the revealed Word of God, avoiding all extremes, keeping in the middle of the road, yielding to the guidance of the Spirit of God. We should diligently study the Scriptures, but we must avoid fanciful ideas and peculiar, strange interpretations.